Recently, polls were announced which suggested the Christian Democratic Union may be superiorly placed to claim an area deemed key in a potential election win for their representative, and incumbent German President, Angela Merkel. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia has, for most of the post-1945 period, been run by her party’s main rivals, the Social Democratic Party, yet these recent statistics suggest a potential victory for the CDU representative Armin Laschet. Whilst the focus may predominantly be on this now competitive area, perhaps it may be more poignant to place attention on Merkel herself, and her party’s representatives; a potential victory in an area, which seemed to be previously firmly held by the SDP, may suggest the population has successfully received her policies.
Merkel assumed office in 2005, yet seems to have honed her capabilities across her multiple years in politics by boasting various positions of power. Amongst these positions was President of the European Council, during which she chaired the G8, and this may contribute to an influx of votes for the upcoming election; in demonstrating her willingness to work with other world leaders, including US President Donald Trump, bypassing potential differing ideologies in their common goal for unity, she may have established herself as a balanced and capable leader. As such, she seems to have showcased she possesses the necessary abilities to remain as Chancellor, perhaps signalling the increased importance of the opinion polls; high ratings may prove her success in particular areas, whilst being on the opposing end of the voting scale may be a challenge she relishes, as she seeks to improve the CDU’s position.
With a population of approximately 18 million, North Rhine-Westphalia the most populous state of Germany, with four of Germany’s ten largest cities are located within, along with the largest metropolitan area across the entirety of Europe. As such, the necessity to attain votes in this area seemed to be intensified for both the CDU and SPD, yet for contrasting reasons; whilst for the SPD victory may showcase the success of their implemented ideologies, victory for the former may prove they may be able to surpass varying backgrounds, geography or class systems to appeal to voters. If the CDU may be able to attain votes in these cities boasting large populations, they may be able to replicate their accomplishments in other areas within their rivals’ power, and increase their chances of attaining a position in the Bundestag.
Whilst the state seems to be amongst others in terms of its vitality, the polls for this area seem to give an insight into which party may ultimately go on to lead Germany. Considering the area is the SPD leader, Martin Schulz’s, home state, it seems his motivation to extend the tenure of his party in the state may be amplified. Furthermore, he may be seeking conformation of his popularity, as his appointment resulted in a surge in SPD support; as such, it seems Schulz’s assets themselves, coupled with his targeting of important areas surrounding educational and police funding, may sway voters’ opinions. As such, whilst Laschet may be the frontrunner for the state, the SPD may also be well equipped to amass control.
With the election scheduled for 24th September, the leaders of all parties may be aiming to utilise this period in the most productive manner possible, showcasing how the application of their philosophies may lead to a stable future. Whilst Martin Schulz seems to boast the necessary experience, and as such may be well equipped to command such a role, it seems Merkel’s longevity as leader, coupled with her high approval rating, may hold her in better stead to be Germany’s driving force. The potential adjustment in power in a former SPD stronghold may emphasise this statement further, and suggest the population may be aiming to drive the state in a new direction, under a differing, innovative politician; this may have relevance in a time where nationalism seems to be sweeping across the globe, yet the German population seem to have contrasting views, advocating the progress into a more tolerant and accepting society.
How may Merkel’s projected victory act as the catalyst in her increasing support in other key areas?